Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cat of the Living Dead

One of our outdoor cats, Thor, lost a fight with a raccoon last week. He spent some time looking like a special effect from the set of Pet Sematary 4. I mean, really: Zombie Cat. He had chunks of flesh hanging off of his face, and his head is now an odd shape due to the missing chunks. I'm surprised he kept his left eye; he's got a gash that stripped off most of the tissue around and behind it. On the plus side, the festering stage seems to be done now, he no longer smells like he's rotting, and it looks like the wounds are healing. Still, he looks a bit fragile and very damaged. We're hoping he survives; he's semi-friendly, for a feral cat, and he's very cute.

I'm at a loss about what to do when our feral cats get injured. In this case, I really don't think a trip to the vet would do anything. And, even if a vet could do some kind of face repair, we're not affording it. I feel a bit cold and jaded when I place a dollar value on one of our cats, but a moderate mortality rate is one of the givens of a feral cat colony. I'm not happy to see any of them die, but our high kitten mortality rate has gotten me somewhat used to the idea.

Still, I'm hoping for the best with Thor. He's a good cat, he's been here a while, and he's Tommie the cat's best kitty pal. I'd like to see him stick around for as long as possible.

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UPDATE: The comments contain some highly graphic descriptions of what, exactly, happened to Thor and the aftermath. Be warned.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should seriously consider dosing Thor with antibiotics. If you can't give them to him, you can put a crushed pill or Clavamox liquid in his food. Infection could kill him - not the injuries. Also, you have to be aware that flies could lay eggs in the wounds and the hatched larva would kill him as well. If there is any way to confine him to a crate inside while he heals, that would be ideal. Check out this blog: http://wildrun.blogspot.com/ She can probably give you some great advice on dealing with this situation.

Jeff Mountjoy said...

I'll give that a try; I'll call the vet first thing in the morning.

Thanks for the advice -- Thor and I both appreciate it!

Jeff Mountjoy said...

Thanks again, anonymous. I had never even considered maggots as a problem, but you got me thinking enough to check him out. I lured him with tuna, tackled him and bundled him in a towel (this is the kitty whose scratches once sent me to the doctor, after all) to keep him in one place, and took a close look at the wound. Yep, maggots. And in a bad place. The chunk of missing flesh runs from just behind his left eye, almost up to his ear, down to his jawline. The skin near the back edge of the wound was separating from the underlying tissue, and the maggots were burrowing there, some heading up towards his ear canal under the skin. I cleaned them out, washed and (gently) scrubbed the damaged tissue to remove the eggs and really tiny freshly-hatched ones, and doused the area with betadine. If I had a choice, I would've brought him inside and kept him in the kitty room in the basement. But we're about to leave town for a few days, and I don't want to saddle our housesitter with sick feral cat duty, so I let Thor go again. I'll hunt him down tomorrow again and check him out, and take care of any more creeping things I find in the wound.

On the plus side, I didn't see any signs of infection. I'm hoping he'll make it until we get back in town; if he's still not past the worst of it, I'll put him inside in the basement to take better care of him....